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UPDATE: Next trial in Facebook murders put on hold over email evidence

June 5th, 2014 1:05 pm by Becky Campbell

UPDATE: Next trial in Facebook murders put on hold over email evidence

Jamie Curd in an earlier court appearance (Lee Talbert/Press file photo)

The August double murder trial for a Mountain City man is on hold after a motion hearing Thursday in the case known as the Facebook murders.

Jamie Curd’s trial was set to begin Aug. 12 for the January 2012 shooting deaths of Billy Payne Jr., 36, Billie Jean Hayworth, 23, in their Johnson County home. The case was moved to Washington County due to pre-trial publicity.

The murders stem from a result of a social media dispute between the couple and Jenelle Potter that ended in her being “defriended” on Facebook, prosecutors have said.

Jenelle Potter’s father, Marvin Potter, and Curd, a friend of the Potters, are allegedly the two who actually killed Payne and Hayworth. Jenelle Potter’s mother, Barbara Potter, is also charged. Prosecutors have not detailed what role the women played in the murders. After the women were indicted, Assistant District Attorney General Dennis Brooks only said investigators spent countless tedious hours obtaining email communications in order to charge them.

Those emails — thousands of pages, according to attorneys — are part of the reason for Curd’s trial delay.

Brooks said he has a forensic linguist who has reviewed the emails to determine who wrote them. He said the expert can look at a person’s known writings and then compare that to unknown writings and determine if that person wrote it. Once that report is prepared, the defense must also have time for its expert to review the records.

Defense attorneys, Randy Fallin for Marvin and Barbara Potter, Cameron Hyder for Jenelle Potter, and Casey Sears for Curd, said they have just obtained an expert who will look at nearly 500 gigabytes of the email data and trace it back to IP addresses. The defense will try to show the emails did not come from their clients.

Marvin Potter, 61, has already been tried and convicted on two counts of first-degree murder. He’s currently serving two life sentences.

In addition to the motion to continue the trial, the defense also filed a motion for a “bill of particulars.” That’s a request for specific information and evidence prosecutors intend to use at trial.

Fallin told Blackwood that the email and other Internet-related documentation is voluminous and the defense hopes it can be pared down so attorneys can prepare for trial.

Brooks said he has most of the trial evidence narrowed down and will supply the defense with that information.

Blackwood granted the trial delay for Curd after hearing from both sides, but did not set a new trial date. He will check his calendar when he returns to his Knoxville office and send that information to attorneys in a judicial order, he said.

Follow Becky Campbell on Twitter @CampbellinCourt. Like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BeckyCampbellJCPress.

Reported Earlier:

The August double murder trial for a Mountain City man is on hold after a motion hearing Thursday in the case known as the Facebook murders.

Jamie Curd’s trial was set to begin Aug. 12 for the January 2012 shooting deaths of Billy Payne Jr., 36, Billie Jean Hayworth, 23, in their Johnson County home. The case was moved to Washington County due to pre-trial publicity.

The murders stem from a result of a social media dispute between the couple and Jenelle Potter that ended in her being “defriended” on Facebook, prosecutors have said.

Jenelle Potter’s father, Marvin Potter and Curd, a friend of the Potters, are allegedly the two who actually killed Payne and Hayworth. Jenelle Potter’s mother, Barbara Potter, is also charged. Prosecutors have not detailed what role the women played in the murders. After the women were indicted, Assistant District Attorney General Dennis Brooks only said investigators spent countless tedious hours obtaining email communications in order to charge them.

Those emails – thousands of pages, according to attorneys – are part of the reason for Curd’s trial delay.

Brooks said he has a forensic linguist who has reviewed the emails to determine who wrote them. He said the expert can look at a person’s known writings and then compare that to unknown writings and determine if that person wrote it.

Defense attorneys, Randy Fallin for the Marvin and Barbara Potter, Cameron Hyder for Jenelle Potter, and Casey Sears for Curd, said they have just obtained an expert who will look at nearly 500 gigabytes of the email data and trace it back to IP addresses. The defense will try to show the emails did not come from their clients.

Marvin Potter, 61, has already been tried and convicted on two counts of first-degree murder. He’s currently serving two life sentences.

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